The Big Moon interview: Tropical Rubicon Courage

Bassist Celia took a break from recording their debut album to give us a heads up on everything you need to know.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 11th Oct 2016.
Originally published: 1st Sep 2016

Image: The Big Moon

Super-tight and brimming with 'Tropical Rubicon courage' (we'll leave that one for later), The Big Moon are an all-girl gang from London zapping the touring circuit with harmonious bursts of gritty guitar-pop.

They've found the perfect equilibrium between moody cool and retro verve, however live transmission is when it really happens for Jules, Soph, Celia and Fern: they shred hard, posses a rad chemistry and are currently bottling it all into a debut album. 

Alongside a headline tour in October, they support Mystery Jets, play All Years Leaving in Birmingham with Gengahr and Twin Peaks before hooking up on tour with Spring King. Sound exhausting? 

Ahead of all this, Ben Smith caught up with bassist Celia during a break in recording. 

I hear you're recording at the moment. Stressful times? 

I'm scared to even say it, I might go back in there and everyone's hating each other. Everyone says that recording an album is stressful but we haven't found that to be the case yet. 

Is there such thing as a Friday feeling in the studio? 

We're recording all weekend and we're all pretty tired so it's more of a Wednesday feeling! The weekend still feels so far away. 

Speaking of the album, is it sounding as you envisaged beforehand? 

We've had these songs for ages and we've been really keen to get them done; to record them at a point where we're ready and the songs haven't gone stale or we haven't moved onto a new thing.

We're striking at the right point I think. We wanted to do it at a point of where we could get an authentic snapshot of ourselves and it's all sounding really good. 

We're recording live because we wanted it to sound as faithful to our live sound as possible. That's the vibe we're going for. There's lots of 'over-dubby' things happening. 

It's great that the album will be reflective of your live performance, I remember being stupidly drunk for your set at Sounds From The Other City and dancing to your cover of Madonna... 

Oh sick, I was sooo hungover that day, like dying. I locked myself in the boot of a van just before we went on.

I didn't realise there was a handle so I was just kind of in there calling everyone, jumping around and shouting, then went on and played a show and was like 'omg I'm such a mess'. It was so much fun, I love playing in Manchester. 

There's also Albert Hall, we've played there three times now which seems a bit mental given our size as a band, but it's such a fucking beautiful venue. It sounds glorious and we're so lucky to have played there, even once. 

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Going back to the album, you say you want it to be an authentic snapshot of the band. But is it true that Jules written some of the songs before you came together? 

Yeah quite a few of them. I guess now it's probably half and half. I think the majority have been written since we became a band, but Jules writes them all so I guess it's all from her brain. Everything is cohesive. Even if she wrote them before we'd have worked through them together in a way that makes it sound like 'us'.  

There's a huge distinction between songs that she wrote years ago and ones from a few months ago in terms of how we make it sound like us.

Now we've got a bunch of songs that we're really happy with and really tight, it's so exciting, it's crazy, we're doing it right now. They're shredding right in the other room. It's crazy that it'll be printed onto vinyl and i'll get to hold it in my hand!

How's the vinyl coming along, everyone's on a colored vinyl hype at the minute... 

We haven't got that far yet, we haven't even thought about it yet [limited edition...?] yeah, pink (laughs). But apparently it sounds worse on colored vinyl. [how about a moon too?] Yeah, well we had a moon on our very first single when we put out 'Sucker' - a year ago. 

We did it with a singles label and they wanted all of there releases to be on 12". We didn't want to put out an EP at that point, just 'Sucker' and a b-side. On the other side of it was a moon and they etched it into the other side of the vinyl. 

I'm sure we'll have lots of meetings that take longer than it did to record a song about what font we're going to use and the placing of where the price sticker is going to go! 

In terms of your song-writing. What really intrigues me is the meaning of the phrase 'Tropical Rubicon courage' on 'Cupid'? 

So that's about, there's a thing that people say: if you drink pineapple juice it makes your cum taste sweet! It's about a guy who goes on a night out and he's trying to woo a lady and he's drinking pineapple juice beforehand.

So it's kind of dutch courage, but 'Tropical Rubicon courage'. [I'm glad we've cleared that up] It's one of my favorite lines and it's so fun to sing - say it 10 times really fast!

That's another thing I'm looking forward to. Having all of the lyrics in there and people can work through them and see the little bits that get lost in a live performance. Turns of phrases that are really funny, so that'll be good everyone will realise what a genius she [Jules] is once that comes out.

The next thing we must talk about is the music video for 'Silent Movie Susie', how did that come about?

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Oh god. I can't believe how well it turned out. So yeah Louis Bhose is the guy who we've worked with for a few years now. He done the 'Nothing Without You' video and the 'Cupid' video where everyone's just throwing shit at us and he's so funny, he's such a funny guy. When he sends us back edits of the things he's shot, the timings are so comedic and brilliant.  

We sent him the song and asked "do you have any ideas?" He sent back this email saying just kind of go with me here. He picked up this doll from the market and sent us a clip doing different movements with her. It was so funny and we were like yep that's it we're going to do that.

We sat in a cafe, brainstormed funny things and went a bit crazy with everything thatwe wanted her to do post break-up. Doing life drawings, but of an Action Man so he doesn't have any bits. He shot the video, it came back and it was just perfect. 

And the 'Cupid' video is pretty manic too... 

One of my best friends was sitting underneath the camera with a Supersoaker full of paint just shooting at my face. It was quite terrifying actually, because we could only shoot it once.

It had to be perfect otherwise the whole day would have been a total waste. We couldn't really breathe because there was lots of paint in our face, it was in our eyes while we were trying to play our instruments

Is it always this fun being in The Big Moon, have you ever had to get through any bad times? 

We want everything to be good so we take the work seriously. Often the way to make something good is to be in a good mood whilst you're doing it. Obviously we spend so much time together, so it'd be impossible to be partying the whole time because it'd be exhausting. If only my body could handle it!

But the best thing is that we work really well together and we really care about each other. We're really understanding of each other and we make decision really well together and they're the moments where we're like ,"I love you guys soooo much". 

With this album process, spending 12 hour days together at least, every day for 12 days straight, there's space for things to get gnarly but it kind of hasn't. We haven't done loads and loads of takes of each song, so we haven't got sick of each other or frustrated. It's all happened quite naturally. But yeah, we're seriously fun!

Looking ahead you're playing shows with Mystery Jets, Spring King, King Gizzard...

Oh yeah, that show (Strange Waves) is going to be sooo good. I feel like every Manchester show we do is such a great line up and experience. The Parrots as well and The Wytches, it's going to be a banger. I've never seen King Gizzard play before, I'm so excited. 

And there's your own headline tour... 

Yeah, we're playing Scala. That feels a bit crazy that's like a real venue that real people play and it just feels a bit unreal that we're going to be playing it. We're all like is anyone going to come? And anyone who does come will have a great time. You're going to have the best night of your life!

And the Spring King shows; we've wanted to play together for ages because we're great friends of there's and it's just never really worked out. Even though it's a couple of dates, i'm so excited. All of the support bands on the show, it's going to be mega: The Magic Gang, Kagoule and Get Inuit. It's going to be crazy. 

Catch The Big Moon play All Years Leaving with Gengahr and more at Hare and Hounds in Birmingham on Friday 21st October - tickets via the box below. 

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